The Jungle Book

by Rudyard Kipling, 1894

Wayne read a copy of The Jungle Book at the condo in Palm Springs, so I checked out this version from the Library. It has 3 of the 7 stories and was illustrated by Nicola Bayley. The three stories are: Mowgli’s Brothers, Kaa’s Hunting, and Tiger! Tiger!.

In Mowgli’s Brothers, a little boy is saved from Shere Khan, the evil tiger, by Father and Mother wolves and raised as one of their own. Mother Wolf names him Mowgli which means little frog. The Law of the Jungle is taught to little Mowgli by Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the black panther. They love him and so does Mother Wolf and his wolf-pack siblings. When Akela, the wise, old pack leader is soon to be ousted by the evil converts to Shere Khan’s ways, Mowgli has to leave the pack and go live with man. His heart breaks and he cries and cries for the first time in his life.

In Kaa’s Hunting, Kaa is a huge python whom Baloo and Bagheera enlist to save Mowgli from the monkeys, who have kidnapped him and taken him to an old ruined city in the jungle. The monkeys are the least-respected animals in the jungle. Baloo says, “I have taught thee all the Law of the Jungle for all the peoples of the Jungle–except the Monkey-Folk who live in the trees. They have no Law. They are outcasts. They have no speech of their own, but use the stolen words which they overhear when they listen, and peep, and wait up above in the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the Jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter and all is forgotten. We of the Jungle have no dealings with them…They are very many, evil, dirty, shameless, and they desire, if they have any fixed desire, to be noticed by the Jungle-People. But we do not notice them even when they throw nuts and filth on our heads.”

This is how the monkeys talk about themselves: “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the Jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true,” they shouted.

Kaa the python saves Mowgli from the Monkey-people.

In Tiger! Tiger!, Mowgli is living with man and is herds the cattle. His wolf-brother warns him that Shere Khan is coming to get him. He uses the cattle, the bulls, and Grey Brother and Akela (the old wolf-pack leader) and they trap Shere Khan in a ravine and Mowgli is skinning Shere Khan when an old man (Buldeo) from the village tries to claim it for himself. Buldeo lies to the rest of the village and Mowgli is not allowed to return to the village, even though he saved their lives. He goes back to the Council Rock with Grey Brother and Akela and gathers the pack to him. He is sitting on Shere Khan’s skin. “Ever since Akela had been deposed, the Pack had been without a leader, hunting and fighting at their own pleasure. But they answered the call from habit, and some of them were lame from the traps they had fallen into, and some limped from shot-wounds, and some were mangy from eating bad food, and many were missing; but they came to the Council Rock, all that were left of them, and saw Shere Khan’s striped hide on the rock, and the huge law was dangling at the end of the empty, dangling feet.” … “Lead us again, O Akela. Lead us again, O Man-cub, for we be sick of this lawlessness, and we would be the Free People once more.” They come to their senses and ask Akela to lead them again. “So Mowgli went away and hunted with the four cubs in the Jungle from that day on. But he was not always alone, because years afterwards he became a man and married. But that is a story for grown-ups.”

A Month in the Country

by J. L. Carr, 1980

Short historical novel – 106 pages – set in England in the summer of 1920. A young man, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the horror that was WWI, and having an unfaithful wife, is hired to restore a painting on the wall of a church in a tiny town in rural England. He ends up healing emotionally during his month there. The townspeople love him and he loves them. His first friend is Charles Moon, a fellow veteran doing work in the field nearby (looking for the bones of their benefactor’s ancestor). This young man is entertaining and friendly. He ends up being gay, Tom finds out later from a fellow soldier he runs into while visiting another town with Mr. Ellerbeck to help them buy a new (used) organ. Tom Birkin is very likable. He is painstakingly removing the grime and white wash from a 15th century painting on a church wall. He works and lives in the belfry of the church. But the nice townspeople won’t let him remain all by himself. They get him to help with Sunday school and sports teams and come over for Sunday tea and dinner, etc. The vicar’s wife is beautiful and he ends up in love with her, and she is in love with him, but it is unrequited. At the end of the month, the summer is over, his work is finished, and his wife has found him and asked him to return. It’s a sweet, lovely book. The only problem is the dialect and the things they know and speak of familiarly of which I’ve never heard. But you still manage to feel the atmosphere of beauty, love, warmth in the English countryside.

my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry

by Fredrik Backman, 2013

Translation, 2015, by Henning Koch

Sweet story by the author of A Man Called Ove. It’s about a 7-year old girl, Elsa, and her granny. Granny is a real character but she loves and protects Elsa and is Elsa’s only friend. But then she dies of cancer and leaves Elsa alone, except there’s a mystery of letters being found that Elsa has to deliver to the people around her. She gets to know them one-by-one and grows to love them and they love her and they are her friends. The letters are from Granny to thee individuals and in them, Granny is writing to them saying she’s sorry. As Elsa delivers these letters, she learns the stories of these people and she grows to love them, and so do we. We start out not liking these people: Britt-Marie with her desire to control everything and have it be perfect, the Monster because he is huge and dark and scary, the Wurst because he is howling and howling behind a closed door, the woman in the dark skirt who is a drunk, Alf the taxi driver, Maude and Lennart and their little dog, Samantha – Maude constantly providing cookies called Dreams, Lennart with his endless supply of coffee – you love them from the beginning; Elsa’s Mum who runs a hospital and is pregnant with “Halfie” which will be Elsa’s half-brother or sister; George, Elsa’s step-father who is nice to everyone and jogs everywhere, Elsa’s dad, who is always late picking her up from school and is a perfectionist and loves fonts and appreciates proper grammar. Then, there is an evil, evil man named Sam, who does not live in the building but is related to some of the people in the building and he is a true danger.

Granny was a doctor who helped around the globe when there were wars and natural disasters. Some of the people in the building were people she rescued who had lost everything and needed comfort. She brought them home and gave them a place to live. It turns out, she owns the whole building and all of the flats are occupied by people she helped and loved, but there are things that happened that Granny feels the need to say ‘sorry‘ for after her death, but mainly so that Elsa will befriend them and realize she is not abandoned and alone.

I loved little Elsa, 7 years old almost 8. I loved the way Backman always starts out his books with characters that you don’t really like but then end up loving once you get to know them and know their story. We do that in this book by the letters Elsa has to deliver one-by-one and, in turn, learns about the people occupying the flats, hears their stories which mirror the fairy tales that Granny used to tell her, and we come to understand and love them. The Wurst is a big black dog that Elsa starts out very afraid of because she can only hear him howling and howling behind a closed door after Granny dies. Then, she brings him Dreams (cookies) and they become friends and she protects him and he protects her. It’s beautiful and sweet. The cover of the book is precious and depicts Elsa and the Wurst.

Sweet, precious, beautiful book.

An Italian Education

The Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona

by Tim Parks, 1995

Delightful foray into the day-to-day life of an expatriate in Verona, Italy. This book was recommended by The Economist, in an article books about Italy. At the start of the book, he and his Italian wife, Rita, have a little boy, Michele, and by the end of the book, he is expecting his 3rd child, whom he hopes to name Lucia, if his wife, Rita, approves. He describes life in Italy so well. You are there! The coddling parents, especially “Mamma’s” to their sons. The fathers who are somehow always absent, going off to fish, to mountain bike, to garden, or to do this or that, but it’s okay. The religiosity in the background and the landscape – everywhere the Madonna or a saint this or that. The heat in the summer, the color blue of the sky and the sea. His in-laws live in Pescara and they go there every summer for a few weeks. Much of the book describes the daily life of that town by the sea. It’s lovely, hot, sultry, relaxing. They rent their own sun shade for the season – that’s the way of Italy in the summer. The children (Michele and little sister, Stefi) are lively and happy. They have no inhibitions. They play, they laugh, they ask for what they want, they delight, they cry, they whine, but not very much.

I learned why the Italian team on Davis Cup wears blue. All of Italy’s sports teams wear blue. They are called Azzurro. The way he presents it, it’s like the color blue is everywhere in Italy – the blue of the sky, the sea, etc.

Really good book! I have only one heartache from it – he is an atheist and he raised his children to be atheists. Michele, the little boy, doesn’t believe Jesus is God. Stefi, the precious little sister, does at the time this book is written, but I fear that belief will be intellectualized out of her. The way priests have portrayed Christianity for centuries has made it so unappealing to Europeans.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

by Matthew Perry, 2022

Brutally honest memoir by Matthew Perry, the actor who played Chandler Bing on Friends. He was an alcoholic and addicted to opiates. I remember laughing hysterically during the episode in which he is trying to quit smoking and is chewing nicotine gum and has nicotine patches all over him and says, “I’m alive with pleasure now.”

Little did I know, he couldn’t get through a day without taking 55 pills, drinking a huge bottle of vodka, and smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day. He started life on barbiturates – he was colicky and his young parents took him to the doctor and the doctor prescribed barbiturates to get him to calm down and fall asleep. His mom was young and beautiful, his dad was young and handsome. The marriage did not last and he stayed with his mom and visited his dad once in a while. He and his mom lived in Canada. Him mom was Suzanne Perry, the “spin-meister” for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. His dad moved to Los Angeles to try and make it as an actor. He is best known as the Old Spice sailor guy. His parents dearly loved him, but he never knew it. He thought he was not good enough. When he is 14, he discovers drinking and loves it. While his buddies are puking their guts out, he is lying on the grass staring at the moon and at peace for the first time. He loves that feeling.

He also loves tennis and has ambitions to be another Jimmy Connors. He moves to LA to live with his Dad and soon discovers top Canadian tennis players are not able to win even one point in a match against players who grow up in sunny Southern California. He turns to acting, and he’s funny and he’s good. The drinking is continuing, though. Soon, he’s drinking every night. A lot, too; the huge bottle of vodka with the handle, every night.

He lands the Friends part of Chandler Bing three weeks after he prays to God to please let him be famous. He believed being famous would fill all the holes in his soul. It is miraculous that he got that part. He tells the story in detail.

For a while, he keeps his life together enough not to mess up the best thing that ever happened to him. But then, he is filming Fools Rush In, and decides to ride a jet ski on Lake Mead. He ends up hurting himself and the doctor gives him some opiates to take away the pain so he can finish the film. That was the start of a 25-year addiction that should have killed him, but didn’t. He describes in detail what his life was like and how he lived day after day, making sure he could score 55 pills a day. He used several doctors at a time and when that didn’t work, he used drug dealers. He had love interests (Julia Roberts, for one) but he was always afraid they would leave him so he left them first. What he describes is tragic and dark and scary and awful. He calls addiction ‘the Big Terrible Thing.’ He went through detox and rehab many times. During a particularly bad detox session, he met God in his kitchen and he describes it so beautifully. He is loved and accepted and connected and safe and secure and it’s beautiful. He knows it was God. That feeling and vision keeps him sober for a few years. He goes back to drinking and drugs as soon as something happens, though. He abuses his body so bad, his colon bursts and he vomits into his breathing tube and shit and bacteria are all through his body. His good friend, Erin, is with him in detox right before she realizes he is in more pain than just the detox and needs to go to the hospital. She calls the hospital or 911 and says, “We have a high-profile coming in with severe abdominal pain.” He is put on an ECMO machine and no one survives that. He does, though.

After 25 years, millions of dollars, lots and lots of heartache, pain, suffering, trapped in an endless cycle, he finally breaks free. He forgives his parents, he is thankful for all he’s been given, and he forgives himself.

The last thing he quits is smoking, because if he doesn’t, he will end up with emphysema and have to carry around an oxygen tank, which he considers worse than the colostomy bag he had to wear for 9 months after his colon burst. It was so hard for him to quit smoking. He smoked three packs a day. He used a famous hypnotist and he thought he finally had it licked, but then he bites into peanut butter on toast and all his teeth come out. The surgery to replace all of his teeth is so painful, he has to smoke. He relapses but only on the smoking thing, and he only relapses for a short time. He is clean now.

Pray for Matthew Perry. May you never have to go back down into that big, dark, terrible thing again. God, give him love and happiness, a wife and children, and let him find meaning and purpose in helping others overcome the terrible disease of addiction. Thank you, God, for Matthew Perry.

The Exiles

by Christina Baker Kline, 2020

This was the 3rd book selection for the Old Town Library Book Club 2022-2023 year. Historical fiction set in 1840’s London and Australia; specifically, Van Diemen’s Land, the colonial name for Tasmania. Young governess, Evangeline Stokes, pregnant and wrongly accused of stealing a ruby ring given to her by the young aristocrat who wooed her and made her pregnant. She is sent to Newgate Prison and then transported to Van Diemen’s Land. She has the baby on the ship on the way over. An evil sailor, Buck, takes revenge because Evangeline saved her friend and fellow convict, Hazel, from being raped by him, and he is punished. He throws Evangeline overboard when he is released from his confinement on the ship. She drowns because the captain refused to allow the kind doctor, Dr. Dunne, to jump in and try to save her. Hazel and Olive, two fellow convicts, care for the infant daughter. Hazel loves her like her own, names her Ruby, after the ruby ring Evangeline was accused of stealing.

Another story line of the book is that of Mathinna, a young aboriginal girl taken from her home and family and raised in the governor’s home. Mathinna’s tale is tragic – she is unloved and easily discarded and sent to an orphanage when the governor and his family move away. She becomes a drunk, living on the streets of Hobart. Hazel tries to convince her to come live with her, but Mathinna chooses to remain in her drunken lifestyle.

It’s a good tale. The horrors of prison life, and of the ship, are not too graphic – she describes just enough to give the reader a taste of what it was like. The ending was good, except for Mathinna’s story. Hazel ends up with Dr. Dunne, the kindly ship’s doctor who wanted to jump overboard and save Evangeline, but the ship’s captain would not allow him to do so. He makes sure Hazel gets to take care of Evangeline’s baby. Hazel ends up helping him in his practice when he opens one in Australia. She has all kinds of knowledge about mid-wiving and herbs and uses those to help people, and also to save Ruby’s life when Buck, the evil sailor, comes to kill Ruby. Hazel gives him a cup of tea laced with the flowers (pink trumpet-shaped) of a bush that are poisonous. She saves the day.

I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me

by John Ortberg, 2017

Highly entertaining book about intimacy and how important it is to be intimate and how God is our ultimate example of true intimacy. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He tells many hilarious, adorable stories of his family, like how his wife comforted their infant daughter by saying, “Honey, honey, I know, I know,” and when their daughter was a toddler, they heard her in her room comforting herself with those same words. How adorable!

He starts out describing how everyone wants a place at the table. We all want to belong and have our own place at the table. Each chapter ends with the Gospel, describing how Jesus surrendered His ultimate power and authority and came to us as a tiny, vulnerable baby, because of His love for us, that is our ultimate example of how to love others. Jesus always had time for people. He never had to say, “What did you say?” He was always listening, always “fully present.” He shared experiences with his disciples and for us to have intimacy, we must share experiences with others, such as walking together, eating together, learning together, doing favors for each other, resting together, boat rides, mountain climbing, praying, fishing, and car rides – that was a joke – “the apostles were together in one accord.”

The 10,000-Hour Rule is about as much time as Jesus spent with His disciples. Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, talks about how long it takes to master something challenging – 10,000 hours.

Ortberg reminds us that now, today, God is always here for us. We need only to seek Him out, call out to Him, spend time with Him. Ask Him for help when you need it and then pay attention. Thank Him when there is goodness or beauty in your life.

He talks about how we have a hard time being intimate with God because we can’t see Him, but actually it’s because He has always been there, like water to a fish, that we’ve never known what it is like to be without Him.

The Doing of the Thing

The Brief Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom

by Vince Welch, Cort Conley, Brad Dimock, 1998

Excellent book recommended by Adam because Buzz Holmstrom was a “Boatman’s Boatman,” like Adam. Takes place in the 1930s and 1940s and tells the story of this young man from Oregon who built his own boat and started running rivers. His first was the Rogue River in 1934-1935. Then, the Salmon River in 1936. 1937 was “the doing of the thing;” he ran the Green and the Colorado Rivers all the way to Lake Mead, solo. He ran all the rapids except for Lava Falls. Then he got kind of famous and that was hard for him. He went on another trip with his friends this time, in 1939, and this time, he ran Lava Falls, too. He is well-liked, even loved, but seems very shy. The next major river trip is across the country from west to east with Mrs. Clegg, a wealthy Vancouver woman. This trip took 8 or 9 months in 1940 and 1941. They went up the Snake, then the Yellowstone, then the Missouri, then the Mississippi, then the Ohio, and finally the Hudson to NYC. By the end of it, WWII had started in Europe. He is drafted and volunteers for the Navy. He serves admirably helping to build and repair boats as a carpenter’s mate, and man PT (motored patrol torpedo) boats in the Pacific, around Australia and New Guinea. Once home, he drifts doing various jobs and finally lands on a survey trip down the Grande Ronde. He is tasked with running a scow he helped build down the full and fast river. He doesn’t think he can do it. He borrows a shot gun and says “I’m going to shoot a chicken” and his body is found with a bullet hole in his head a few hours later. So sad. He was such a talented, likable, humble guy, a credit to the human race. There is controversy over the death. His mother cannot believe her son committed suicide. There are others, too, that think it may have been murder or an accident. But the coroner’s report is pretty conclusive in the way the gun was laying and where the bullet hole was. There is speculation as to why he did it because he wasn’t really a chicken. The one that gets closest to it, in my opinion, is the theory that he was depressed, that he had done the most amazing things in his youth and nothing could ever come close. Here’s what Bob Sharp, a member of the 1937 Carnegie-Cal Tech research trip which met Holmstrom in the Grand Canyon, wrote 60 years later:

“If you have a remarkable experience as a young person, there is no encore. Everything else was going to be anticlimactic. Some of the astronauts have had a tough time. Grand Canyon is not that caliber, but it was the best trip I ever had. I had intellectual interests which went beyond the Canyon trip. I don’t think Buzz had such a background of interests to tide him over. He had lived his dream and everything after that was dull. I believe that he could have easily deteriorated psychologically. He was a workman and just plain work was no longer satisfying. It’s tough for somebody to have a marvelous experience like that. What do you do for an encore? What more do you have up your sleeve?”

Very well-written book. You feel like you are on the rivers in 1930s and 1940s. There are lots of snippets from Buzz’s river journals throughout the book and those help the reader to know the young man. Such a tragic end, however, and breaks your heart.

Nature Wants Us to Be Fat

by Richard J. Johnson, MD

Scientific book about the survival switch, a set of responses triggered in our body when we eat sugar (especially fructose). It is there from millennia ago to keep us from starving. It causes our body to store fat and lower our metabolism. The switch turns on when we eat salty foods and umami (savory) foods also. We can prevent the switch from turning on by not eating high glycemic foods, by drinking 8 glasses of water a day, by exercising 3-4 days a week for 1 hour each time, and by intermittent fasting (16:8 one to two days/week). Eating fruit is okay but limit it to 1/2 a serving at a time. Umami foods that we should avoid that trigger the survival switch are beer and red meat. We should start eating more chicken. Dairy foods (lactose) are okay and do not trigger the switch. Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acids) block many of fructose’s effects. He recommends exercising before breakfast. High-Glycemic carbohydrates to avoid are potatoes, instant oatmeal, cornflakes, watermelon, white rice, white bread, pancakes, bagels, sweet corn, and spaghetti. He okays the use of Stevia and Sucralose (Splenda); in fact, he and his family use them. They do not trigger the survival switch. Also, Monk Fruit, Invert sugar, Xylitol, Maltitol, and Erythritol are okay. He does not recommend these artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, saccharin, Yacon syrup, Tagatose, and sorbitol. Sorbitol, which is in most sugar-free gums, is an artificial sweetener that the body turns into frucose, so Wayne needs to find a sugar-free gum that does not contain sorbitol.

The Switch Diet to lose weight is to go on a low-carb diet for about a month, or the Switch Diet but limit high-glycemic carbs, salty foods, and umami foods), drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, reduce salt intake to 5-6 grams daily, intermittently fast (16:8) one or two days a week (optional), and minimize or avoid alcohol, take a daily vitamin C supplement of 500 mg or less, exercise one hour, 3-4 times a week, eat dark chocolate or take epicatechin, and drink green tea.

The fruits to avoid are ones with high fructose content: Dried figs, Dried apricot, Mango, Green or Red Grapes, Raisins, Pear, Watermelon, Persimmon, Apple.

Medium Fructose Content Fruits are okay if you eat a 1/2 serving only: Medjool date, Blueberries, Banana, Honeydew melon, Papaya, Orange, Peach, Nectarine, Tangerine, Boysenberries, Grapefruit, Pineapple.

Low Fructose Content Fruits: Strawberries, Cherries, Star fruit, Blackberries, Kiwi, Clementine, Raspberries, Cantaloupe, Plum, Deglet noor date, Apricot, Guava, Prune, Cranberries, Lemon, Lime.

One of the studies they did was with two groups of overweight and obese women. One group was allowed to eat whole fruits. The other group was not. Both groups were not allowed any soft drinks, fruit juices or sugary foods and were put on a mild calorie restriction diet. The group that lost the most weight was the group allowed some whole fruit.

Here are the types of sugars:

Fructose: a simple sugar (single molecule) found in fruits and honey.

Glucose: a simple sugar found also in grains, beans, and vegetables; the main sugar in our blood–the main fuel of the body.

Sucrose: Table sugar formed from a fructose and a glucose molecule bonded together. They must be separated in the small intestine before they can be absorbed.

High-fructose corn syrup: Fructose and glucose mixed together, unbonded, to form a liquid. This is the absolute worst kind of sugar.

Uric Acid is a problem. When we eat sugar, uric acid levels in the blood go up.

Obese people are often dehydrated. Salt can create dehydration which triggers the survival switch. Drinking water (8 glasses a day) can prevent further weight gain even when continuing to eat a junk diet.

The survival switch is indicated in gout, which is when high blood levels of uric acid cause crystals to form which get deposited in the joints and cause painful arthritis.

Diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, stroke, dementia, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), kidney disease, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, sudden death, cancer, alcoholism, behavioral disorders like ADHD and bipolar, Alzheimer’s – all can be caused by persistent activation of the survival switch. Fortunately, we can turn it off with the Switch Diet.

“The Switch Diet:

Sugar: Reduce sugar intake to 10 percent of daily calories (with 5 percent as a long-term goal), eliminate sugary drinks entirely.

Carbohydrates: Reduce high-glycemic carboyhydrates. Emphasize whole grains, low-glycemic vegetables, and high-fiber foods. Limit fruit to 3-4 servings daily, separated, with half servings for high-glycemic varieties. Avoid dried fruit, fruit juices, fruit syrups, and fruit concentrates.

Protein: Limit high-umami proteins (red meats, organ meats, and shellfish). Emphasize, fish, poultry, dairy, and vegetable proteins.

Fat: Emphasize monounsaturated and omega-3 fats. Saturated fats can account for up to 10 percent of total caloric intake.

Salt: Reduce salt intake to 5-6 grams daily. Limit processed foods, as they are often high in salt (as well as sugar).

Water: Drink 8 ounces of water 6-8 times a day.

Dairy: Dairy is generally recommended, especially milk. Butter and cheese are fine if LDL cholesterol levels are controlled. High-umami cheese (blue, roquefort, gorgonzola, parmesan) should be limited.

Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: Coffee and tea are recommended, Dark chocolate is encouraged.

Alcohol: Reduce or eliminate alcohol. If you must drink, sip rather than drinking quickly, and alternate with water.

Vitamin C: Take a Vitamin C supplement daily.”

Also, incorporate intermittent fasting, 16:8 at least 2 days a week (I think), or 5:2 which is fasting 2 days (500 calories/day) and eating normal for 5 days.

If we have activated the survival switch, exercising while it is activated is counter-productive. It actually reduces our metabolism and dooms our weight-loss goals. He recommends going on a low carb diet first to turn off the survival switch, and then incorporating exercise programs of 3-4 days per week, one hour each time. It is best to get 8 hours of sleep and to exercise prior to eating breakfast. That will burn fat.

Here are Wayne’s notes from the book (he scanned it in one afternoon):

“Some thoughts on gut management (excessive fructose bad, glucose needed)…

-Fish oil – full dose

-C – 500 mg (pees out uric acid, more risks stones)

-16/8 fast 2/wk—include 2-3 mile walk before eating

-Jeanne tea at lunch at latest

-evening hydration: one beer, one tonic, one licorice tea

-limit: “added” sugars, white rice, potato, other high glycemic

-moderate: spaghetti (use: pre-water and big side dish) and big red meat to once/wk


-Balance (week): spaghetti/chicken (2)/tuna/eat out/red meat/egg sandwich w/beans, cauliflower

-sugar less than 8 g per serving: Fruits: orange 6g, pineapple (dessert, 4 g/slice), cherries or raspberries 4g/cup, prune 1 g, grapes 12g/cup)

-pulses definitely have a place here

-whole grain bread ok, and nuts

-all veggies ok

-umami (moderate these: beers, beef/pork, V8, broccoli/spinach

-Pur gum (sorbitol a proven problem for me)

-stevia and sucralose good (beware sweet tooth), saccharin/aspertame ok’ish

-sodium calculation: 1g table salt = 400 mg sodium, 3000 mg max

-dark chocolate (85%) a good thing! as is olive oil.”

The Little Book of Bob

by James Bowen, 2018

A sweet little book about lessons he learned from Bob, his Ginger Tom cat that he loves so much. It is an easy-read and has darling illustrations. Here are some of the lessons:

“We are all stronger together than we are apart.” He needs to go one step further and admit God into his life – the giver of all good things. “A three-cord strand is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12.

Friendship “is not about being there every moment of the day–it’s aobut being there when it matters.”

True friends understand you and can just be there, silently present, when that’s what you need.

“We all need to be noticed. We all need to feel we are important. That we are needed.” For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16.

Routines in one’s life are important – they make us feel secure.

People need to feel independent and in control of their lives. Good advice for my dealings with Mom.

“We all want to feel protected.” Yes, we are all scared little beings, but “if God is for us, who can be against us.” Romans 8:31

“We all need something to believe in…You are what I believe in, Bob.” Dear James, I’m so sorry for your hurt and pain. Remember all that you learned from Bob. He was a gift from God to you. God loves you and He cares for you.

Other things he learned from Bob – we need challenges (“insecurity”) to help us grow, learn, and have fun.

Open our eyes

There’s wonder all around us

Don’t take revenge (Revenge is mine, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19)

Don’t obsess about what you don’t have, be grateful for what you do have.

“Enjoy the Journey…Take things little by little…Don’t be ruled by fear. (Fear not for I am with you. Isaiah 41:10)

Be in the moment. Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…

Social interactions are important – do not be too socially isolated – even a quick chat in a shop or park – is good for you.

Do not turn away other’s love and affection.

Don’t be concerned with what other’s think of you – be yourself.

Never give up.

Something as simple as a smile and a kind word can change a life.

Music can bring bliss.

There are lots of other little tid-bits he learned from Bob. He tells cute stories about Bob with each bit of wisdom. A precious little book.

My prayer for James Bowen: Dear God, please comfort James as only You can. Help him to see and feel your love and bring him into your loving arms. Amen.

In the 3 books of his that I’ve read, he writes about encounters on the street with Christians. Each encounter was meaningful to him and sparked thoughts and wonder. I hope he chooses God in the end.

A Gift from Bob

by James Bowen, 2014

This is the true story of James and his beloved cat, Bob, and their Christmas together in London 2010. It is when James finally had a beautiful Christmas and learned that it is better to give than to receive. They start out freezing cold with the electricity and gas in their apartment turned off due to non-payment. James and Bob have to go out and earn some money. They do! Many of James’s loyal customers give him money and gifts for Christmas. They are able to get the heat turned back on and food and a gift for Belle, that he leaves on a bus. But, he finds a piece of concrete with beautiful stones on one side, in a construction spot where he had to let Bob down to go to the bathroom. Bob is there for him. There is a bad person – a drug pusher who tries to force James to take some free heroin. James literally has to run away into a crowd of people. There is a good person who is handing out flyers for a sermon he is giving on Christmas Eve. He talks to James and tells him he is being christian, like in Acts 32:5 (it is really in Acts 20:35) where Paul quotes Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” James has been giving out Christmas cards to his customers and seeing their faces light up has given him that warm, happy feeling. But James won’t go to Christmas Eve services – no way. He has bad memories of Christianity. But, he and Bob have a beautiful Christmas together, his first ever.

I looked up James Bowen and Bob died in June 2020 and it may be that James is back on drugs because there is a post on his facebook page from someone named ‘Sam’ that he has agreed to go to rehab.

My Brilliant Friend

by Elena Ferrante, 2012

This is the first book of the Neopolitan novels. There are three more – next is The Story of a New Name. I’m not sure where I heard about these – maybe the Library’s monthly emails on travel books? It’s set in 1950s Naples, Italy, and tells the story of two childhood friends, Lila and Lenu (Elena). Lenu is the one telling the story. She admires and loves Lila, and is in awe of her. Lila is a cobbler’s daughter. She is so incredibly smart. She already knows how to read and can do figures in her head when they are in elementary school. She grows up to be so incredibly beautiful that all the neighborhood boys fall in love with her. Elena is her only friend. Elena becomes brilliant only because Lila influences her. There are a lot of struggles between families and neighbors in this poor Naples’ neighborhood. Sometimes it’s hard to follow because of the many characters. At one point, Elena spends the summer in Ischia, an island off of the coast of Italy. It sounds beautiful. At the end of this book, Elena and Lila are 16 years old. Lila has just married the grocer, Stefano, a young man who is rich and kindly, but is he true? Lila made him swear to her that the Solara brothers would not be at their wedding, and at the end of the reception, who walk in, but the Solara brothers. Lila’s eyes get the piercing squint and, Elena, watching her, expects the bottle of wine to explode, but it doesn’t because she is looking at the shoes Marcello Solara is wearing. They are the shoes she made with her brother, the shoes she designed and made, that Stefano bought. Marcello, one of the Solara brothers, who loved Lila and thought she was going to marry him is wearing the shoes Stefano bought….hmmm…shall I read the next book? Maybe…

The I Hate to Housekeep Book

by Peg Bracken, 1962

This is a funny book loaned to me by neighbor Ben. It’s full of housekeeping tips for a by-gone era. I’m so glad we don’t have to do all of this. Life must have been so hard when you had to cook from scratch every day, keep a spotless house, iron your pillow cases and guest towels and hankies, dress up, wear hats, put on leg make-up under your nylons, etc. We have it so much easier now, 70 years later, when people wear their jammies and slippers to the grocery store, maybe even on airplanes. One thing we don’t do any longer is smoke in the house. She includes tips on ashtrays – have a special coffee can with a lid and go around and empty them into this can. Yuck! Anyway, here are some tips:

We Came, We Saw, We Left

by Charles Wheelan, 2021

Loved this book! It is our second Old Town Library Book Club selection for the 2022-2023 year, and so refreshing! It was fun and funny. Charles Wheelan is an incredible dad. He teaches Economics at Dartmouth but loves to travel. He and his wife, Leah, decide to take their three teenagers on a gap year around the world. They farmed out the two dogs and Leah’s sister’s family stayed in their house for the year (9 months, actually). They had to have a strict budget, and the two youngest children, Sophie and CJ, had to maintain their school status; Sophie by taking on-line classes, which was a huge battle, and CJ by home-schooling. Katrina, the oldest at 18, had just graduated and deferred her college admission for a year.

They started in Cartagena, Colombia, then down to the tip of South America, then they flew to New Zealand and did both islands, then to Australia and Tasmania, then to Vietnam and Southeast Asia, then to India, Bhutan, Burma, Africa, back to India, then to Eastern Europe, and finally, back home. It was from the fall of 2016 to June of 2017. They had a strict daily budget, which Leah kept track of on a spreadsheet. They each got to take one backpack. Charles wanted to read books along the way, so he picked places they were going where they would be staying with people they knew and mailed the books ahead to those places. CJ, the youngest child, a son, was a chatterbox. Charles and his oldest daughter are introverts. Sophie and Leah are extroverted. There were some meltdowns, maybe about 5 total. They happened when they were really tired, really hungry, and really uncomfortable. But they went around the world, learned so much, and grew so much. CJ became an eco-warrior (at the same time, he loved sports cars and any luxuries along the way). His major assignment was to write a paper on deforestation. He did so, and it was good. Charles and Leah had gone around the world together in the 1990s and they compared the times. One of the take-aways was there has been much environmental degradation – the coral in the Great Barrier Reef is dying, and there was deforestation going on everywhere they went.

Katrina, the 18-year old, picked up a flesh-eating parasite during their time in the Amazon jungle. They noticed these sores on her feet that were not going away. Finally, a friend of hers in Germany hooked her up with a doctor in Germany that specialized in tropical diseases and they figured it out – Leishmaniasis – which had to be treated before it was too late, with 28 days of pills that make you feel like you are on chemo.

A Street Cat Named Bob

And How He Saved My Life, by James Bowen and Garry Jenkins, 2012

True story about a heroin addict in London, James Bowen, adopting this street cat (a “Ginger Tom”) in 2007, who ends up saving his life. What a wonderful gift this cat is from God to him. Because he had to care for this cat, it kept him from going back on heroin and gave his life meaning and richness. This cat, who refused to leave him, provided him the motivation to better his life, get completely off heroin, and provided the love and companionship and purpose he needed to stay off drugs. He healed rifts with his family. He could see beauty in the world again. What a wonderful tale, a true story. I learned about this book from the Poudre River Library’s monthly email on biographies. There are two more books in the series, and he has a website: and Twitter site @streetcatbob.

It is very easy reading but very engaging. I loved this book. You learn a lot about the programs there are for homeless people and addicts in London. Here are some interesting parts:


by Rosamunde Pilcher, 1990

Delightful soap opera set in mid-1970s Scotland. It’s 613 pages long. I got the book from a little-free library. First, Mom read it and loved it. Then, Carol read it and loved it. She said it takes you away to Scotland, and it certainly does. A rural village in Scotland with rich people and poor people and a crazy person and Indian immigrant shop-keepers who save the day, and an 8-year old boy named Henry, and lovers, and friends, and family, and marital discord, and haunting pasts, and a beloved sister coming home after 20 years away. It was a fantastic book and she spared no detail in describing Scottish manors and cottages, and the Scottish landscape and weather. I loved this book!

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

by Ocean Vuong, 2019

Eew. Yuck. I hated this book. Too dark, too depressing, too sad, too hopeless, too graphic, too filthy. No goodness and light whatsoever. Set in Hartford, Connecticut, it’s about “Little Dog,” a Vietnamese boy who is beaten by his mother, who was beaten by her husband. He falls in love with a white boy who is beaten by his alcoholic father, who live in a dirty yellow mobile home. They meet farming tobacco, he describes in detail their sex acts. The white boy’s name is Trevor. He is addicted to Oxycontin from a broken ankle when he is fifteen, eventually becomes a heroin addict and dies from an overdose. In the midst of the darkness and sadness, he also philosphizes and I couldn’t make any sense whatsoever. This book is trash. It was the first selection of the Old Town Library Book Club for 2022-2023. I don’t know if I’ll go on Monday night because I have nothing good to say and I’m angry that someone even suggested this book and that it got selected. It’s deeply disturbing and I wish I never read it. I want to wash my mind of it. The only good things were his grandmother, Lan, and his grandfather, Paul. And the title, a very intriguing title. But the book is hopeless and dark. Yuck. I want to forget I read it.

The Frackers

by Gregory Zuckerman, 2013

Everything you ever wanted to know about fracking. Very detailed. This book was one of the books about oil that the Economist recommended. Thanks to the perseverance against all odds by a few determined men, the U.S.A went from being dependent upon OPEC for energy to being an exporter of energy. But it is so difficult to get oil and natural gas from rock. It took decades to figure out how to do it – horizontal drilling and up to 30 stages of fracking. Supposedly, the process does not cause earthquakes, or pollute underground water ways, although that is not definite. We have fracking spots all over northeastern Colorado, and when we drove to Steamboat, there is one in North Park right alongside the highway.

It turns out that Europe has oil and natural gas, too, but they don’t allow fracking because they are so populated and don’t have the wide open spaces that the U.S.A. has. Poland actually tried fracking but they would have to go too deep, (16,000 feet), to get to the oil, and that’s not feasible. The UK is an excellent candidate for fracking, but the Crown owns the mineral rights and it makes it very difficult to frack. Also, they are so populated and the population is against fracking.

The major US oil companies, like Exxon, were not involved in fracking. They had given up on oil in America and were working overseas when these independent companies like Mitchell Energy and Chesapeake finally got it going and became billionaires. That’s when Exxon and Chevron came back to America.

It’s a very good, detailed book, but since it is 10 years old, I really want to know what’s going on now. I googled, “Is the US still exporting natural gas?” A Reuter’s article from Sept 9, 2022, came up and we are the biggest exporter of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) in the world.

He describes the history, lives and personalities of the main people responsible for making the US into a oil and natural gas powerhouse via fracking, and their various companies:

  1. George Mitchell of Mitchell Energy: It took 17 years but his people finally figured out how to frack and get oil out of the Barnett Shale in Texas. George Mitchell wanted natural gas to be used as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal while allowing renewables to advance in the meantime. He conceived and built The Woodlands community in Texas.
  2. Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward who started Chesapeake Energy: Oklahomans who took fracking mainstream and bought and leased land all over the US and fracked and fracked and fracked. He describes how rich they both were, but Aubrey especially was over-the-top wealthy. Twenty million dollar homes, $100,000 wine collections, etc. Aubrey made Oklahoma City into an upscale city with his donations and influences. He and Tom Ward were both forced out of their companies, though, after the 2008 downturn. I Googled Aubrey McClendon and he died in a single-vehicle crash in Oklahoma City–he ran into a concrete overpass in Oklahoma City and died instantly at 9:12 a.m. on March 2, 2016. Sounds like suicide. This was the day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury for violating anti-trust laws while CEO of Chesapeake Energy from 2007-2012. Tom Ward is still alive and is still in the energy business. He currently runs Mach Energy. Former companies were Chesapeake Energy, SandRidge Energy, and Tapstone Energy.
  3. Charif Souki, the Lebanese immigrant who dreamed of importing Liquid Natural Gas and started a company, Cheniere, and held out hope against all odds, eventually turning it into a LNG exporting company. It is the first company in America to export LNG in 2016. He grew up in Lebanon and learned to ski in the mountains of Lebanon. His persistence was amazing.

There are a few others described in detail, too: Harold Hamm and Mark Papa. He also describes the town of Williston, North Dakota, when Harold Hamm finally figured out how to get oil and natural gas out of the Bakken. It sounds like a horrible town – no place for anyone but the dregs of humanity. The Walmart parking lot was where many of the oilmen lived and it was dangerous for women to walk through that parking lot. Streets were being built so fast, Google maps couldn’t keep up.

I end up rooting for the frackers. I totally forgot about nuclear power, the true answer in my opinion. Maybe there will be a book someday about the people who, against all odds, finally got rich on nuclear power. America is the place where this type of thing can happen because most of our land is not owned by the government, an individual can get wealthy beyond their wildest dreams through their hard work and persistence, and we have lots of wide open spaces.


by Laurie R. King, 2001

Fun mystery! Pat was reading it on her front porch one day this summer. Set in the San Juan Islands, a talented, rich, widowed wood-worker decides to escape her demons on an island her uncle bought in the 1920s. She decides to re-build the house he built that was burned down. There are good characters and bad characters. The setting is wonderful. The writing is superb.